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Owner Of British-Flagged Tanker Met Iran's Zarif To Urge Release Of Vessel

An image grab taken from a broadcast by Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) on July 22, 2019 shows crew members of the British-flagged tanker Stena Impero, after it was seized by Iran's Revolutionary Guards.

The owner of a British-flagged tanker detained by the Islamic Republic has met with Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to ask for the vessel and its crew to be released.

Erik Hannell, chief executive of Stena Bulk, owner of Stena Impero met Zarif in Stockholm on August 20 to make the case for its release.

Iran detained the ship July 19 in an apparent retaliation for the detention of its supertanker at Gibraltar on July 4. British authorities who assisted the seizure of the Iranian tanker argued it was transporting oil to a Syrian refinery sanctioned by EU.

The Iranian vessel was released on August 18, but the British ship is still detained in Iran. Tehran officials argue that it needs to be cleared by an Iranian court, since it broke international regulations. Britain denies this, insisting the tanker was in international waters when it was captured.

"A constructive dialogue was had and we shared information around the case," Hanell said in a statement on Wednesday. "It was important for us to emphasize the importance of the release of the 23 crew ... Also for the release of the Swedish owned vessel Stena Impero.”

It is not clear if there was any mutual understanding between the UK and Iran for the release of both ships, but Iran has not signaled any move toward ending the detention.

Reporting by Reuters